First Published: 2013-07-08

 

From crisis to crisis: Polarization drags Egypt towards unprecedented violence

 

Grand Imam of Cairo-based Al-Azhar says he will ‘remain in seclusion’ in his house until bloodletting ends.

 

Middle East Online

By Jailan Zayan, David Vujanovic – CAIRO

New dawn turns blood red

Fifty-one loyalists of Egypt's ousted president were killed Monday while demonstrating against last week's military coup, triggering an Islamist uprising call and dashing the army's hopes for an interim civilian administration.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which has led demonstrations against Wednesday's overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, said its supporters were "massacred" by troops and police during dawn prayers in Cairo.

The military blamed "terrorists" while witnesses, including Brotherhood supporters at the scene, said the armed forces fired only warning shots and tear gas, and that "thugs" in civilian clothes carried out the shootings.

Condemnation poured in, with Germany expressing "shock" at the violence, Turkey calling it an attack on "humanity" and Brotherhood backer Qatar urging "self-restraint" and "unity".

Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood said it "clearly showed the truth about the bloody military coup".

Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb of the Cairo-based Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning, said he would "remain in seclusion" in his house until the bloodletting ends "and those behind it take responsibility".

The army-appointed interim president, Adly Mansour, set up a judicial commission of inquiry into the killings.

The conservative Islamist Al-Nur party, which won almost a quarter of the votes in 2011-2012 parliamentary elections and had backed the army's overthrow of Morsi, said it was pulling out of talks on a new government in response to the "massacre".

The bloodshed happened outside the headquarters of the elite Republican Guard, which the Brotherhood accuses of betraying Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president.

Islamists hurled stones at the security forces who responded with tear gas, as firefighters battled to extinguish a blaze in an apartment block.

"Morsi supporters were praying while the police and army fired live rounds and tear gas at them," said the Brotherhood.

Emergency services chief Mohammed Sultan told the official MENA news agency at least 51 people were killed and 435 wounded.

Chaos ensued as people searched for the names of missing loved ones on a list of the dead in hospital, where dozens of bodies were laid on the bloody floor of a makeshift morgue.

The army said "armed terrorists" tried to storm the base, killing one security officer and critically wounding six.

It later warned it would not allow anyone to threaten national security, reiterated a call for protesters to stay away from military installations and urged them to end their sit-ins.

The Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, called for "an uprising by the great people of Egypt against those trying to steal their revolution with tanks".

It urged "the international community and international groups and all the free people of the world to intervene to stop further massacres... and prevent a new Syria in the Arab world".

A security official said prosecutors later ordered the closure of the FJP's Cairo headquarters after police discovered weapons they alleged would be used against Morsi opponents.

The bloodshed came just hours before caretaker president Mansour had been due to announce his choice of interim prime minister.

It followed another day of duelling demonstrations across the Arab world's most populous nation in an escalating crisis some fear could spark extremist attacks.

"They are attempting to reverse the situation by creating panic," analyst Hisham Kassem said of the Brotherhood.

"There is a danger that some of them may resort to terror. If the army does not stand firm, what is happening may make us wish for our dictators."

Morsi's single year of turbulent rule was marked by accusations he failed the 2011 revolution that ousted autocratic president Hosni Mubarak by concentrating power in Islamist hands and letting the economy nosedive.

The military, which overthrew Morsi after millions took to the streets on June 30 demanding that he resign, has come under mounting international pressure to swiftly install a civilian administration to oversee a rapid return to elected government.

But Al-Nur said it would no longer take part in talks on such an administration "in response to the massacre outside the Republican Guard," its spokesman said on Twitter.

The party had already voiced strong opposition to the appointment of prominent liberal leader Mohamed ElBaradei as interim premier, delaying efforts to form a caretaker government.

Mansour aides had said before the latest violence that he was leaning towards appointing centre-left lawyer Ziad Bahaa Eldin as premier with ElBaradei as vice president, and that an announcement would be made on Monday.

 

Obama increases US military presence in Iraq

11 Egypt policemen killed in Sinai bomb blast

US army back in Somalia

Paris, Riyadh 'finalising' $3bn Lebanon arms deal

Sudan orders Iran to close cultural centres

Syria arrests pro-regime activists over criticism

Libya pro-Islamist figure presents rival cabinet lineup

Israel faces mounting criticism over Palestinian land grab

Saudi Arabia arrests 88 suspected extremists in 'anti-terror' drive

New UN chief for South Sudan faces ‘huge challenge’

New government in Yemen plus cut in fuel prices

US air strikes target senior Shebab officials in Somalia

‘Scourge of terrorism’ pushes Africa to intensify cooperation

Relatives of missing Iraq soldiers storm parliament in Baghdad

IS accused of 'systematic ethnic cleansing' in Iraq

UK announces tougher measures against Britons planning jihad

Algeria hosts new round of Mali peace talks

US launches new round of air strikes around Iraq dam

Turkey summons US charge d'affaires over Snowden claims

Turkey new PM promises peace with Kurds

Will UN Human Rights Council investigate IS abuses?

Iran convicts Ahmadinejad's vice president for embezzlement

Fierce clashes shatter uneasy calm near armistice line in Golan Heights

Turkey detains dozens of police in new nationwide raids

Libya loses control of Tripoli to Islamist-led militias

Thousands of Huthis defy UN in new show of strength

Iraq presses fightback against jihadist-led militants

Wounded Gazans need long-term care

Britain to go tougher on jihadist suspects

Libyan Islamist militiamen control US embassy compound

Israel shoots down drone over occupied Golan Heights

Yemen army suffers heavy losses in new wave of Qaeda attacks

Turkish army breaks silence on Kurdish peace talks

Islamic State offers grim inspiration to African extremists

Shebab target intelligence HQ in Somalia

Israel expropriates 988 acres of Palestinian land in West Bank

Iraq recaptures Amerli from Islamic State in biggest success so far

Saudi King calls for ‘strong and rapid action’ against jihadists

Jihadists distribute Yazidi women as spoils of war to fighters

Gulf countries resolve six-month dispute with Qatar

Egypt reduces Badie death sentence to life in prison

AU forces liberate former Shebab stronghold in Somalia

Philippines enters war in Syria!

Kurds put aside old rivalries to battle jihadists in Iraq

Iran says new sanctions cast doubt on US sincerity